Piano men concert

Last year we decided on a whim to go see the Yakima Symphony Orchestra’s first concert of the season. It was excellent and we ended up buying season tickets thanks to the first-time-ticket-holder discount.

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Any excuse to dress up!

Last night we saw the show called “Music Men,” featuring a band from Canada doing a tribute to Elton John, Billy Joel, and the 70’s. Between the bantering of the lead singer, the audience participation, and the theme songs from TV shows from the 70’s, it was a little more relaxed atmosphere than usual. Not that the symphony is usually filled with dried up fuddy duddies, but usually no one is singing along.

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Classy is taking cell phone pictures before the concert starts

Frankly, it was fantastic. The singer did a great job of mimicking the vocal styles of those greats. The guitarist was an extremely enthusiastic dancer. The drummer wore a bow tie and vest. The orchestra was superb and clearly enjoying themselves. I especially liked the cello player dancing and singing along to the chorus of Crocodile Rock. And the bass player. Oh, the bass player. A little dorky, he dances only using his knees and waist (in stark contrast to the lanky guitar player’s bopping and weaving). But he wrote the orchestral score for the show. And that man can do a ridiculous Edith Bunker impression. By the end of the concert I had decided I wanted him on my zombie apocalypse team… That’s how awesome he was.

But the star of the show was a fellow audience member on the opposite end of the balcony. I didn’t notice her until Crocodile Rock when I caught movement out of the corner of my eye. She was using the balcony railing near the exit as her own personal pole dancing studio, with lots of grandiose hand gestures, grinding, twirling, and swaying.

I thought the excitement of Crocodile Rock (and the call for audience participation) just carried her out of her chair and into the aisles for an impromptu interpretive dance, and who can blame her? I love that song too! But then I saw her during intermission taking a long and dramatic swig from her flask. She was wearing a tiara, feathered black gloves, and a long, fur lined coat. This lady was clearly lit, with a capital L.

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A poorly drawn picture is worth at least several words.

During the second half of the concert, she really started to shine. Every time a new song started, she would scream. She seemed to be directing her mental orchestra so dramatically that I feared she would fling herself off the balcony. The coat came off. Shoes did too. The gloves stayed (because: classy). At one point, she had her skirt hiked up to her waist doing hoe-down kicks. I think the tiara may have been lost by the end of the show based on how much head and hair throwing was going on. Hopefully it didn’t land on the elderly couple in the balcony below her. Just as amazing was seeing the ripples in the audience around us as they noticed her too: nudging, whispers, outright laughter, eyes widening in horror.

And so I would like to thank the symphony and the guest band for the magical journey through the 70s, and the drunk tiara lady for the equally magical journey into her own personal world. I sincerely hope she got a cab home.

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Christmas 2012 in review

This Christmas had the potential to be a bit of a bummer. This was my year to work and be on call through Christmas which meant no trip home to share the holiday with family. Granted we didn’t have a family Christmas during my 4th year of vet school (also working. Had a chinchilla die Christmas morning. It traumatized Andrew forever), but that year we had many friends in the same boat as us and had a jolly orphan Christmas. Here in Yakima with our old friends scattered across the country and new friends with family plans of their own, we were faced with the prospect of Christmas for two. This was especially upsetting for Andrew who is used to large family gatherings both on Christmas Eve and Christmas day. The closer we got to Christmas, the more convinced he became that this would be the lamest holiday ever.

Well, I couldn’t have that. Periodically, I will rise to the occasion and make something awesome. Like Andrew’s surprise murder mystery birthday party set in the vet school anatomy museum. This holiday probably didn’t meet those standards, but I think I made it pretty good nonetheless.

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Oh Christmas tree

Christmas Eve:
I worked a half day, then came home and helped with the traditional Brauer family saffron bread. Normally I don’t enjoy this bright yellow baked good, studded with red wisps of saffron, but this year my taste buds inexplicably had a change of heart. Turns out saffron bread is delightful!  For dinner we followed another Brauer tradition and made Swedish meatballs. Because we were not exactly making enough to feed a crowd, we tried a different recipe involving one of our favorite cheeses in the sauce: gjetost. This is a goat cheese that has been caramelized, making it sweet and tangy and chewy like a mixture of cheese and caramel (go figure). It is certainly not most people’s favorite cheese… OK, most people who try it declare it to be “weird” and then studiously ignore its presence on the cheese plate. But Andrew and I love it. Alas, the meatballs were under-seasoned and between the cheese, sour cream, and actual cream in the sauce, I went into a mild lactose crisis after dinner. But we watched several episodes of Doctor Who, so that was good.

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Neon yellow saffron bread.

Christmas:
Andrew’s normal Christmas tradition is to wake up at the ass-crack of dawn and open presents in a haze of sleepiness barely held at bay through sheer will power and caffeine. Often this results in my first word of Christmas becoming the f word, and I am more inclined to answer any jolly “merry Christmas!” with a sincere mutter of “go to hell.” This year we slept in till a delightful 8:00 and I woke Andrew up by Skype-ing in our brother and sister-in-law and niece to say good morning! Then we rolled out of bed and opened stockings and Santa gifts (a big gift card to home depot for us novice homeowners! We are debating whether to spend it on paint or light fixtures…). I also surprised Andrew with ugly Christmas sweaters for the dogs and Santa hats for us. Then we ran down to the clinic, still in our pajamas and hats, for morning treatments.

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Breakfast was one of my favorite family traditions: eggnog scones. I maintain that it simply isn’t Christmas without eggnog scones. They’re that good. We opened the rest of the presents after breakfast. Some highlights: Star Trek robes (blue for me because mom knows I’m a science officer at heart, even though blue only came in man-sized; command gold for Andrew, who immediately said, “heck YES I’m the captain!” And posed with an apple, ready to take on the Kobayashi Maru), “foodie” magnetic poetry, a pretty lizard necklace, a globe, and a combination rice cooker and crock pot. Alas, I did not get chickens or a goat. Ah well.
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After presents (and the traditional creation of naughty limericks with the magnetic poetry), we had an epic Nerf gun battle. Then we took ourselves outside to go sledding. Andrew discovered that we can sled from one fence line to another on one of our hills… or at least he could. I could go several yards, then fall over. Sledding is not one of my major skill sets, as it turns out.

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Battle ready husband


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I am aware of how ridiculous I look.

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Our winter wonderland

For dinner we had a tiny ham, mashed potatoes, and glazed carrots. With more Doctor Who, saffron bread, and a delightful port for dessert. We also put together a 3D puzzle of Hobbiton (it took three whole episodes of Doctor Who. 3D is tricky, yo) and skyped with my parents and some good friends before turning in for the night.

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Hobbiton

Ten Day Cleanse: the Last Half

I got lazy with my blog posts. Sigh. But here is a summary of the last days of my cleanse. These days seemed less of a struggle- maybe I had gotten over some kind of hump. Dinners were still harder than they should have been. For a cookbook hoarder, cooking magazine junkie, and cooking website bookmarker like myself, you would think I would have had a ton of real-food recipes up my sleeve. But alas I found myself floundering. I almost bought myself the Practical Paleo cookbook from Costco but Andrew has put a moratorium on buying cookbooks (did I mention I’m an addict?). So if I had to do this again I would sit myself down well ahead of time and figure out a whole bunch of awesome-sauce dinners with no forbidden ingredients so when I came home starving and my only thought to put as much food in my mouth as quickly as possible, I would have some go-to meals already in the back of my head. Live and learn.

Although my mental state was better for the last 5 days of the cleanse, circumstances were still tricky. For instance, on Saturday we went to a Lord of the Rings extended edition marathon and I did everything I could short of strapping lean chicken breasts to my chest to make sure I had good food available to me. I had probably 10 fruities and 15 larabars, an orange, 6 packages of freeze dried fruit, and a bunch of carrots hidden in my coat, purse, wallet, and Andrew’s coat. But even so, it is hard to subsist on those alone for 12 hours and I had some forbidden food. Also, on my very last day we attended an end of the world party chockablock full of comfort food. Since it was my last night, I decided it wasn’t worth being that person who only ate apples at a party so I ended my cleanse 12 hours early. I DID eat a bunch of apples at the party.

I don’t know if it was the few cheating items I ate over the course of the cleanse, but I don’t feel that different. Although, given how I felt after eating some Mac&cheese at the party, this may be a case of realizing that I felt a lot better only after I start eating some crap and start feeling awful.

Day 5:
Breakfast- oatmeal with almond butter and spreadable fruit, Naked protein drink
Lunch- rice cakes with hummus and turkey lunch meat, veggies and hummus
Snacks- fruities, freeze dried fruit
Dinner- Caesar salad (I avoided the croutons and Parmesan), baked sole stuffed with crab meat and broccoli that I suspect had a bunch of butter and garlic on it (we went to red lobster and I scoured the menu for cleanse friendly items. I think I mostly succeeded. Incidentally, we got the hands down worst service ever while we were there.)

Day 6:
Breakfast- Naked protein drink
Lunch- Chinese food (we met a friend for the movie and he wanted to buy us lunch first. I didn’t want to be that jerk who looked at a menu and said nothing was compatible with my diet, so I ate a small amount of a lunch special that I’m pretty sure had nothing on the “okay” list).
Snacks- fruities, freeze dried fruit, a clementine orange, and larabars
Dinner- a whopper from burger king. God help me.

Day 7:
Breakfast- oatmeal with almond butter and spreadable fruit
Lunch- leftover bbq’d pork from the Chinese food, veggies, Naked juice green machine
Dinner- sloppy joes from our favorite recipe that involves pureed squash and sweet potato. Andrew asks for it all the time. I had mine in a pita since Andrew objected to me eating a “plate of sick” without any sort of bun-like item. I also had some veggies.

Day 8:
Breakfast- breakfast burrito
Lunch- leftover sloppy joes, rice cake with almond butter and banana
Snacks- same old, same old
Dinner- scrambled eggs with sausage and tomatoes, a piece of whole grain toast with supportable fruit (Dave’s organic bread), sliced apple

Day 9:
Breakfast- oatmeal with almond butter and spreadable fruit and a sliced banana, Naked juice mango
Lunch- veggies and hummus, sausage, sliced apple
Snacks- didn’t have time for snacks 😦
Dinner- tuna salad on rice cakes

Day 10:
Breakfast- breakfast burrito and a banana
Lunch- beef and veggie soup
Dinner- apples, cheese (cheddar, Gouda, brie), some kind of fruit jelly, French bread, nutella, pizza, Mac &cheese, perogies, gluten-free crackers

Advocare Cleanse Day 4

Today it was suggested to me by my husband that perhaps I should cheat a bit on the diet aspect of this cleanse; apparently I’ve been a wee smidgeon bitchy for the past few days. This suggestion may have been triggered by an expletive-laden text I sent Andrew complaining about traffic on my way to work. Bah. But I’m hoping that my attitude will be improving from here on out because I’m nearly at the halfway point. Woo! Nearly halfway there! Nearly halfway there! Now that’s a vigorous and rowdy chant a girl can get behind. Can we get some fist pumps with that?

I’ll admit I did cheat a bit with dinner. I had a hummus plate at trivia night and, I’m sorry, but if there is feta on my plate I will eat it. I’M NOT MADE OF STONE HERE, PEOPLE! But in reality that was barely a cheat because it was all real food, even if some of it was dairy and I’m betting the pitas were not 100% whole grain.

I’m discovering some things about my diet while under these restrictions. Firstly, I eat a crap-load of sugar during the day. Secondly, I’m apparently a carbitarian. I’ve been having a lot of trouble eating my meals even though I’ve been more or less constantly hungry since I started the cleanse. I think it is because I’m eating more protein and fiber than is usual for me. This morning I nearly ralfed mid-bite during breakfast because I guess a hash is a bit more substantial than my usual oatmeal and toast.

Day three:
Breakfast- hash made with a sweet potato, chicken/apple sausage, tomatoes, and an egg; tea; probiotic pills
Snacks- fruities, freeze dried fruit (yet again, manfully resisting the chocolate covered pretzels in the break room. I’m watching the entire container disappear without me having even one and I may cry a little)
Lunch- Madras lentil chili again (yum); carrot sticks and sugar snap peas with garlic hummus; handful of dates
Dinner #1- two rice cakes with mustard and turkey lunch meat
Dinner #2- hummus plate (spicy roasted pepper hummus, carrots, cucumbers, pitas, and feta)

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This picture has no purpose other than to make me laugh.

Ten Day Challenge: Day Three

Yesterday was rough. I felt like a total weenie because it was only day two, and who can’t handle healthy eating for a mere two days?! It probably didn’t help that it was an insane-o day at work, but by the time I got home I was a mild rage monster and inclined to burst into tears. My breakfast had been über bland, though I discovered the awesomeness of dates to help make almond butter not suck. Lunch wasn’t filling and I had trouble choking down my sweet potato. I was starving by the end of the day. I made some chicken, brown rice, and steamed broccoli, a meal I normally love, but I was hardly able to do more than pick at it with a distinct lack of enthusiasm. Even the fact that I went to CrossFit that morning failed to make my life better. Funk city.

I woke up this morning determined that today would be better and that I would find a way to focus on what I’m allowed to eat rather than what I can’t eat. After all, this isn’t the most restrictive diet ever. I can eat many many things. I just need to get over my need for pastries. And pasta. And sugar. I hit up Freddie’s for supplies on my way to work. I made sure to get more protein today, and eat things that are filling and happy. And, indeed, today was a much better day. I think I am much less likely to be found passed out on the floor of the Starbucks, surrounded by empty cups of chai and crumbs of scones.

The rest of the cleanse is going well. The fiber drink is tasty, though the texture is as bad as expected. The key is to chug it fast. The pills are doable and I am thrilled to say that I have not had to make any panicked bathroom runs thus far.

Day 2:
Breakfast- fiber drink; oatmeal with pureed pumpkin, walnuts, and almond butter…. And chopped dates once I realized it was awful.
Snacks- fruties, freeze dried fruit from Costco (strawberries and bananas)
Lunch- spinach salad with mushrooms, snap peas, turkey lunch meat, and vinaigrette; celery sticks with almond butter and chopped dates (aka the most kick-ass version of ants on a log ever); half a sweet potato
Dinner- chicken, rice, broccoli, and a Lara bar
Herbal pills before bed

Day 3:
Breakfast- fiber drink; protein drink from odwalla, vegetarian breakfast burrito
Snacks- fruities, freeze dried fruit (apples with cinnamon). I resisted the chocolate covered pretzels a client brought in. It was hard.
Lunch- Madras lentil chili and ants on a log
Dinner- chicken meatballs (I love Costco) with pineapples and snap peas. Confession: Andrew made a sauce that included brown sugar. Naughty!
Dessert- pomegranate seeds!
Herbal pills before bed

Advocare 10 Day Challenge: day one

So I’ve decided I’m going to be a bad-ass. I’m going to give everything I’ve got in the box. After all, the Open is coming up and I’m going to kick the me of last year’s booty. Part of this is dialing in my diet better because I’m a total sucker for carbs, sugar, and dairy. Enter the 10 day cleanse.

I’ve done an herbal cleanse before and it was a disaster. The pills went right through me, I felt like death, I was turning whiter than usual. I have been assured by those who have used this system that this experience is unlikely to be repeated. I also like the more balanced approach Advocate uses. They stress a diet of raw or barely cooked veggies, fruits, lean meats, and whole grains in moderation for the duration of the cleanse. No sugar, minimize fat. Tons of water. There are herbal cleanse pills that you take for the first 7 days, fiber drinks on the first few and last few days, and probiotics at the end.

I started today. Yesterday was a lot of prep work: grocery shopping for veggies, baking a squash and apples to turn into squashle sauce, and baking some sweet potatoes for lunches. I am anticipating the hardest part of this will be giving up my morning tea with sugar, and my serious Starbucks addiction. Oh, and most carbs.

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Day One:
Breakfast- two rice cakes with almond butter (just almonds, no sugar) and a cool jam I found that is just fruit with no sugar; fiber drink; Jasmine tea
Snacks- 2 “fruities” (technically these are baby food, but really they are pureed fruit in handy portable pouches); celery sticks with almond butter
Lunch- baked sweet potato with a tiny drizzle of olive oil and honey with a good sprinkle of salt and garam masala; spinach salad with snap peas, turkey lunch meat, mushrooms, cucumbers, half an avocado, and a cool vinaigrette I found that had no forbidden ingredients.
Dinner- Madras lentil chili from Costco (3 servings because I was starving to death); squashle sauce with a wee tiny drizzle of honey, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.
Herbal pills at bedtime.

Allonsy!

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So much beta carotene

Operation: eat less crap

I’ve been feeling cruddy of late. Digestively speaking. I’m thinking it might be related to the sheer quantity of McDonald’s I’ve been ingesting recently. I decided I need to eat better. Real foods. Not necessarily paleo (because although I have drunk of the CrossFit kool-aid, I’m not willing to give up pasta unless I am actually diagnosed with gluten intolerance. And even then it’s iffy), but more the Michael Pollan theory of eating: eat real food, not too much, mostly vegetables.

This sent me into a happy journey into some of my favorite food blogs to find some good recipes containing more whole foods and less crap. Which leads me to lunch for the week: a southwestern salad with black beans, jicama, spaghetti squash, and a homemade zesty buttermilk dressing. This is from my favorite food blog, Eat Live Run. Andrew flat-out rejected this as dinner, do I decided to try something I saw on pinterest and make this salad into main jar meals for lunch. You work your way up in layers so that by the time you eat your meal, the wet ingredients haven’t turned your delicate greens into a nauseating pile of sogginess. … excuse me, I just gagged a bit thinking about that…

In order from the bottom up:

  • zesty buttermilk dressing made with buttermilk, mayo, lime juice, salt, cayenne, cumin, and garlic powder. Unaccountably delightful.
  • cooked cubed chicken
  • roasted spaghetti squash
  • black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • red pepper
  • jicama
  • shredded cabbage
  • cilantro

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I’ll report back tomorrow…